I have taken time to question and get to know candidate Phillis Maniglia and learn about her position on the future of the town and Okeechobee Blvd. Besides the Red Barn and the mini-strip shopping center next door, we have several other commercial businesses on Okeechobee who collect sales tax on the goods they sell. According to the property appraiser, these properties do not pay any commercial business property taxes. How did that source of town income get past the council’s commercial tax hawk? Most of these businesses also have candidate Ron Jarriel’s campaign signs. The PAPA website classifies some of these properties as single family residential. Since when is a mulching company, a land development company or a sod/soil company a single-family residence?
Candidate Maniglia’s vision for Okeechobee is to encourage residential/ag enterprises for those landowners on Okeechobee who fit the town’s definition of Residential Enterprise, Ordinance No. 2013-02. Town-sanctioned residential enterprises are not bars, strip clubs or any of the other salacious, commercial low businesses as has been suggested by Jarriel supporters. Let these residential enterprise businesses on Okeechobee come before the council and apply for a foot-traffic variance. The retail nursery on Okeechobee has foot traffic.
At the candidates forum, the subject of horse trails came up. Candidate Jarriel’s comments were a repeat of his usual talking points that we’ve heard from the dais for years and nothing has been accomplished. Whereas Phillis’ response was up-to-the-minute and factual: “We may never get horse trails.” Phillis was referring to the Duck Puddle legal action against the town. At the March 21, 2017 town council meeting, instead of working with the landowner to determine the common ground, Jarriel, Dave Demarois and Ryan Liang voted to accept the canal maintenance easements from the LGWCD, thus resulting in the lawsuit. If the judge sides with Duck Puddle, there will be no horse trails in the town.
When Tom Goltzené was elected to the council, one of his first legislative acts was to pay each member a salary of $250/month. Over the next few years, it increased to $750/month. Now Jarriel wants to make the salary $1,000/month. Some town residents cannot get to their homes or go to work without the risk of damaging their vehicle, their trailered horses or themselves because of the deplorable condition of the roads. Why should the council be getting a salary increase or paid anything at all is the question? When elected, Phillis will take action to suspend the council’s salary until all roads are fixed.
Please be part of the solution to the town’s problems and vote. Equally important, encourage your neighbors and friends to the polls and tell they do the same. Town elections have been won with a margin of less than 10 votes. You getting one extra vote to the polls will make all the difference in our town. On March 13, vote for change, vote for new leadership, vote for Phillis Maniglia.
Dennis Lipp, Loxahatchee Groves